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The Swiftsure Class of nuclear submarines were designed with a hull life at construction of at least 25 years. The actual service life of those vessels that have been withdrawn from service is as follows:
|Vessel||A ctual service life in years|
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate his Department has made of the cost of developing a new design of submarine reactor with a passive cooling system that could function without relying on cooling pumps. 
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the countries that have the capability of firing a nuclear weapon that could reach (a) the UK, (b) Japan and (c) Venezuela. 
Des Browne: Several countries have the capability to fire nuclear armed missiles which are able to strike a range of targets around the world including the UK, Japan and Venezuela. These capabilities are summarised in Box 2-2 of the White Paper The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent (Cm 6994), published on 4 December.
Des Browne: Paragraphs 5-11 to 5-14 of the White Paper: The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent (Cm 6994), published on 4 December, set out our current estimate of the overall costs involved in sustaining our current independent statement. A more accurate breakdown is not yet available. Copies of the White Paper are available in the Library of the House.
Des Browne: I have nothing further to add to paragraph 5-11 of the White Paper: The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent (Cm 6994), published on 4 December, copies of which are available in the Library of the House. At this very early stage of the procurement process, we are not in a position to break these estimates down in the way requested, for either a four or three submarine fleet.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which external organisations provided estimates for the costs of option (a) one, (b) two, (c) three and (d) four, outlined in the White Paper The future of the United Kingdoms nuclear deterrent. 
Des Browne: The cost estimates reflected in paragraph 5-2 of the White Paper: The Future of the United Kingdoms Nuclear Deterrrent (Cm 6994) were produced within the MOD, with some assistance from costing experts in Qinetiq.
Derek Twigg [holding answer 29 November 2006]: The Secretary of State for Defence met with Cabinet colleagues and attended an MOD operational briefing in the morning before attending the House for Prime Ministers Question Time and the Foreign Affairs and Defence debate. The Secretary of State also had meetings with other parliamentary colleagues.
The Minister of State for the Armed Forces held a number of departmental meetings with officials in the morning before attending a Ministerial Ad Hoc group on Terrorism. The Minister then attended Prime Ministers Question Time. He then attended an additional Ministers meeting on Terrorism before attending the Foreign Affairs and Defence debate. In the evening the Minister attended a Defence Council reception and an Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme reception.
The Minister for Defence Procurement held a number of departmental meetings with officials in the morning. In the afternoon, Lord Drayson gave an oral PQ answer to Lord Morris, 22 November 2006, Official Report, columns 335-37, followed by a meeting with a representative from EADS before attending a meeting of the Lords Front Bench. In the evening Lord Drayson hosted a Defence Council reception.
The Under-Secretary of State was occupied with departmental business in the morning. During the reminder of the day he attended the House for the Foreign Affairs and Defence debate, and had a number of departmental meetings and one meeting with representatives from the Services Families Federations. In the evening the Minister attended a Defence Council reception and an Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme reception.
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will establish a monitoring mechanism to reduce the risk of outsourcing of defence business to dominant private sector companies. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 27 November 2006]: The Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS) recognises that long-term value for money is the bedrock of the Ministry of Defences procurement policy, while delivering the equipment and capability the armed forces needs.
Open and fair competition both at prime and subcontract level remains one of the key mechanisms by which we achieve this. MOD rules require procurements to be advertised in either the Official Journal of the European Union, the MOD Contracts Bulletin or the European Defence Agencys Electronic
Bulletin Board. All tenders are evaluated on the same basis and against the same award criteria.
The DIS also recognises that competition is not always appropriate in achieving long term value for money but must be used intelligently alongside other options, having considered the nature of the marketplace. This assists in militating against the possibility of dominant private sector companies winning most or all outsourced defence business unless won in open and fair competition. A Key role of the new Defence Commercial Director is to ensure that particular companies do not achieve a dominant position that is not in the UKs interest.
Derek Twigg: MOD has applied no abatement to the pay of HM Service personnel either prior to, or since, 31 March 1975, for the purpose of funding pension entitlements. The Armed Forces Pension Scheme 75 (AFPS 75) is, and always has been, non-contributory and unfunded. The military salary was introduced in 1970 and from 1971 the Armed Forces Pay Review Body (AFPRB) began to make recommendations regarding military salary following consideration of civilian comparators.
In 1981 the AFRPB recommended, following a Government Actuary's report, that the value of the AFPS 75 pension should be taken into consideration as part of overall earnings for service personnel during the process of remuneration comparison and in judging the appropriate levels of military salaries. As a result an adjustment was introduced by the AFPRB in making their overall pay recommendations to reflect the non-contributory value of AFPS 75 benefits as compared with the contributory pension benefits of comparator employees.
Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence from what fund armed forces service pensions are paid to pensioners who retired (a) prior to 31 March 1975 and (b) after 1 April 1975. 
Derek Twigg: The Ministry of Defence pays employers superannuation contributions which cover the future pension liabilities which are accruing for personnel while they are serving in the armed forces. The rate of the MOD contributions is set by the Government Actuary's Department.
The actual funding for the payment of armed forces pensions comes directly from the Treasury as for other public sector pensions and is administered through the MOD as annually managed expenditure. The annual budget for the payment of armed forces pensions is contained within a single Request for Resources submitted separately from the Defence Budget and Accounts for the scheme are published annually and laid before Parliament.
Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will reinstate free postage for letters and parcels sent to members of the armed forces serving in Afghanistan and Iraq; and if he will make a statement. 
Derek Twigg [holding answer 18 December 2006]: A free packet scheme was first introduced on 17 April 2003, as a temporary measure unique to Iraq, at a time when Service personnel did not have access to the welfare facilities that are now available in both Iraq and Afghanistan. When the provision of goods and services in Iraq reached the required standard, the decision was taken to end the scheme on 8 April 2004. It was later re-introduced for a period of one month before Christmas 2004, and subsequently confirmed by the then Secretary of State for Defence, prior to Christmas 2005, that the pre-Christmas free packet scheme was to become a standard element of the Operational Welfare Package.
The option of extending the free packet scheme was again examined in September when enhancements to the operational welfare package were being considered, but personnel on the ground stated a preference for improvements to welfare telephone and internet provision above free mail. Improvements to the telephone and internet services to the value of some £2.2 million were announced on 10 October. Nonetheless, the package remains under continuous review.
Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many RAF officers were on duty (a) in the terminal and (b) at the base at RAF Akrotiri between 1700 hours on Tuesday 26 September and 0600 hours on Wednesday 27 September; and what the normal working establishment is. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 18 December 2006]: On Tuesday 26 September one commissioned officer was on duty in the terminal; however, between 1730 and 2020 hours the officer was not at the terminal but on call. A total of five officers were on duty at RAF Akrotiri, with others available on call.
The normal working establishment for commissioned officers at the base is in the region of 50 during an average day. Out of hours, typically there are four commissioned officers on duty and others will be on call in the event of contingencies. The normal working establishment for commissioned officers at the terminal is three during an average day, and one on call, out of hours.
Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what records are kept on the length of service, rank and pay of ex-servicemen and women who retired from the forces prior to 31 March 1975. 
In general, those relating to personnel who left the Army and Navy before the early 1920s are held at the National Archives where they are available to the Department and members of the public alike. Records of the first 329,000 RAF personnel who served in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) before 1 April 1918, and in the RAF (formerly RFC and Royal Naval Air Service) from 1 April 1918 are also held by the National Archives. Records relating to personnel who served after that date, who left service before 31 March 1975 are held in the pan-Government archive at Swadlincote where they are available for departmental use.
These records contain details of postings, promotions and length of service but not normally of pay. Pay records were retained for around seven years after an individual's discharge at which point they were checked for accuracy and, if no credit or debit remained outstanding, they were destroyed.
Derek Twigg: Overall, the armed forces last met and exceeded recruitment targets in financial year 2003-04 when they gained 23,540 recruits from civilian life against a target 23,269. In financial year 2005-06 the naval service gained 3,940 recruits against a target of 3,933, and in financial year 2003-04 the Army gained 15,260 recruits against a target of 14,493. The RAF has almost achieved target on a number of occasions, the most recent being financial year 2005-06 when it gained 1,480 recruits from civilian life against a target of 1,500. Details of individual service recruitment targets prior to 1 April 2000 are not kept on a central database.
Derek Twigg: The following table shows those recruits who went onto infantry courses for the last 12 months and had been allocated to the Scottish Division by the Army's recruiting authority. Some of these soldiers may change infantry division, capbadge or may not complete training.
|Scottish Division Infantry loading||Number|
|Statistics have been rounded to the nearest 10, numbers ending in 5 have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.|
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 4 December 2006, Official Report, columns 189-90W, on the retirement age, what his Department's policy is on the application of the national default retirement age to staff below the senior civil service. 
Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many soldiers serving with the Royal Irish Regiment Home Service were re-engaged at age 55 between 1 September 2005 and 31 August 2006 in each battalion. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 18 December 2006]: The information requested is not readily available in the format requested but we are seeking to establish what information might be available. I will write to the hon. Member when this work is complete and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.
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